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It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
Harvest House Publishers (June 1, 2010)
As a boy, Jerry Eicher spent eight years in Honduras where his grandfather helped found an Amish community outreach. As an adult, Jerry taught for two terms in parochial Amish and Mennonite schools in Ohio and Illinois. He has been involved in church renewal for 14 years and has preached in churches and conducted weekend meetings of in-depth Bible teaching. Jerry lives with his wife, Tina, and their four children in Virginia.
Visit the author's website.
List Price: $11.99
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (June 1, 2010)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Breakfast was finished, and her mother would soon call from downstairs for help. Her cousins were coming to visit this evening, and there was a lot of work to do.
As she secured her dark hair beneath the head covering she wore for work, Hannah glanced down at the paper on which she had scribbled the words of the poem. Surely she had time for another quick read, and that would have to do. Her almost seventeen-year-old hands trembled as she held the writing in front of her.
The words of the poem by E.S. White, written in 1908, gripped her again.
A Ballad of Spring
It’s Spring, my Love.
Bowed down with care,
Your branches are stripped and bare.
Old Winter’s past.
Its snow and cold
Have melted long and lost their hold.
The earth it waited
With bated breath for something more,
For life renewed called from its core.
It opens wide its arms.
For strength, for vigor, for its best,
It stirs its creatures to their nests.
All around it lies the warmth
Because the sun has drawn near,
Touching, caressing, there and here.
Arise, it calls.
The pomegranates bloom.
They yell that life has room.
Will you come, my Dear,
Hold my hand, touch what I bring?
Because, my Love, it’s Spring.
Hannah paused as thoughts raced through her head. Can this be true? Is there really such a feeling? Is this something I could really feel…this thing called love?
Then, from downstairs she heard the urgent sound of her mother’s voice, “Hannah, time to start the day.”
“Yes, I’m coming,” she called as she quickly placed the poem on the dresser, smoothed the last wrinkles out of the bed covers, and then rushed out of her room and down the stairs.
“The wash needs to be started right away,” her mom said as she busied herself with the dishes in the kitchen sink.
“Yes, right away,” Hannah said. After making one last check for dirty clothes in the bedrooms, she made her way down to the basement. The sparse room seemed dingy and damp, in stark contrast to the fresh spring day she had seen from her upstairs window. She’d much rather be outside, but the laundry must be done.
Hannah ran the water into the tub from the attached hose. When the water reached the fill line, she turned off the water and tossed in the first load of dirty clothes. With a jerk on the starter rope, the old tub started vibrating. The motor changed its speed and sound as the center tumbler turned, dragging the load of pants and shirts through the water.
As Hannah reached inside the washer to check the progress, the memory of the poem returned to her. Then she thought of James back in seventh grade. His grin had been lopsided but cute. He was a sweet boy—his eyes always lit up whenever Hannah looked at him. Was that the first stirrings of whatever this thing called “love” was?
Surely not. Such ideas! If someone could read my thoughts… “A dumm-kopf, that’s what they’d say,” she spoke aloud, smiling at her youthful memory.
Her hand dodged the tumbler’s wrath, but still the tumbler caught a piece of cloth and whipped water in her direction.
Then her memory moved up to eighth grade. Sam Knepp. A thirteen-year-old girl just had to have someone to like. The other girls would have thought her a true dummkopf if she had no one. And so she had picked Sam at random. What other choice had there been? Sam sat across the aisle from her. He was sort of cute. He had freckles, red hair, and a good smile. But there was that horrible habit he had of opening his mouth when he was puzzled or surprised.
When Hannah told the other girls she liked Sam, they reacted with admiration. So she had made the right choice. Maybe she was not a dummkopf. Her friend Mary stuck up for her choice. Mary was blonde and sweet on Laverne, who was truly a wonder in the world of Amish eighth graders. He was easily the best-looking boy in the district. In fact Hannah would have picked Laverne had he not already been taken by Mary. For some reason, it didn’t bother her that Annie, who was in the sixth grade, had her attention on Sam; blushing every time he walked by, but saying nothing.
No, Hannah decided, Sam didn’t fit for her. Not really. Maybe Laverne would have been a good choice, but not as long as he was Mary’s choice. Hannah supposed even now that Laverne and Mary would soon be dating.
“Hannah,” her mother called from upstairs, “are you done yet?”
“Coming,” Hannah called out. “This old washer is going as fast as it can.”
“Well, hurry up. The clothing needs to be on the line soon. The sun is already well up.”
“Yes,” Hannah called out again, “I’ll get it out as soon as I can.”
Minutes later the cycle was finished, and Hannah quickly loaded the basket with the heavy wet laundry and made her way up the steps and out to the clothesline.
Outside, the glorious spring day greeted her brightly. Hannah turned her face skyward and almost lost her grip on the basket as she soaked in the warm sunshine. What a glorious spring it was going to be! It felt so good to be young and alive.
Hannah began pinning the wet clothes onto the line till they stretched out, heavy in the still morning air. Later the breeze would pick up and dry the clothes as they flapped in the wind. It was a beautiful sight to behold. Hannah hoped the wind would stay gentle until the last piece was fully dry, but with spring days, one was never sure. The wind could have a mind of its own.
She stood back and watched with approval the first of the wash begin to move slightly in the breeze. Yes, this is going to be a wonderful spring, she decided as she picked up the basket and turned to go back inside.
The sun was still out when the first buggies arrived for the evening’s family gathering. Two buggies came in, one right after the other, and then two more arrived fifteen minutes later. Among the guests were Ben and Susan Yoder—Susan was Hannah’s mom’s cousin. Also in attendance were Leroy and John, brothers on her dad’s side, and Mose, Leroy’s brother-in-law. Other people who were in some way connected to the Millers had also been invited. Having a few outside guests allowed for some spontaneity while maintaining some of the structures formed by the natural family. Sam Knepp came that night because one of the cousins had taken the notion to invite him.
It amused Hannah to see Sam again, having just thought of him that morning. She noticed that he still had that habit of occasionally allowing his mouth to drop open almost randomly.
After a hearty supper, all the young people went outside to play. Since so many younger children were involved, they had to choose a simple game. The game they chose was Wolf, which caused Hannah to consider whether or not she might be too old to join in. The game involved races run at full speed in the darkness. When all of the cousins and Sam announced they would play, Hannah decided to join in. After all, Sam and she were the same age. If he could play, so could she.
With that decided, the game was called to order, and the first “wolf”—her cousin Micah—was chosen. He picked the big tree beside the house for his home base, hollered loudly that the game had begun, and began to count. The children scattered to find hiding places before he counted to one hundred. Hannah decided to try to bluff the wolf by hiding just around the corner of the house.
At the count of a hundred, the wolf silently moved to the edge of the house, stuck his head around the corner, spotted Hannah, and howled with glee. He easily beat her back to the tree trunk.
“That was stupid of me,” Hannah muttered as she joined Micah at the tree.
“They try that on me all the time,” the wolf crowed in triumph. “Now let’s get the rest of them. You go around the house that way, and I’ll take the side you hid on.”
Hannah imitated the wolf’s trick, now that she was one herself, but the corner of the house produced no hidden sheep. The moon had already set by now, and the only light came from the stars. This corner of the house was particularly dark, absent of any light beams from the gas lanterns in the living room and kitchen.
Hannah felt her way along the house and, hearing a noise, she turned toward the front porch where she flushed someone out of the bush and found herself in a race back to the tree trunk. Hannah wasn’t sure who she was chasing, but that didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was who got to the tree first.
Just as she passed the corner of the house, Hannah’s world exploded into a deeper darkness than the evening around her. Sam, the one she had flushed from the bush, somehow collided with Hannah. He flew backward, and Hannah flew off into complete darkness in the other direction. Two other racers just missed her fallen body and dodged Sam who had now crawled slowly to a sitting position.
Young cousin Jonas, one of the children who had to jump to avoid Hannah’s body, immediately ran to the kitchen door, stuck his head in, and yelled in his loudest little-boy voice, “Someone bring a light! There’s been a hurt!”
Roy Miller, Hannah’s father, reacted first. He grabbed the kitchen lantern from its hook and ran outside.
“What’s going on?” he called from the porch, holding his lantern aloft, the light reaching out in a great circle.
“She’s hurt! Over here!” Sam called. He now rested on his left elbow and pointed toward Hannah’s still body.
As Roy approached, Sam slowly huddled closer to Hannah, both hands wrapped around his head. “Hannah,” he whispered, “are you hurt?”
By the light of Roy’s approaching lantern, Sam saw that Hannah was not moving. He took his hands off his head and gently pushed her arm but got no response. “You okay?” he asked again, tilting his head sideways to look down at her.
“Oh no, I hurt her!” Sam yelled as he jumped to his feet. He then stood speechless, his mouth wide open.
With the lantern in hand, Roy was now standing over the two young people. Glancing briefly at Sam, Roy reached for Hannah’s hand and then focused his attention on Hannah’s head, which had obviously taken the brunt of the hit as evidenced by a deep gash and wound to her left eye. Roy gently gathered Hannah in his arms and spoke to his brother, Leroy, standing beside him.
“Better take a look at Sam,” Roy said with a motion of his head toward the boy, and then he headed to the kitchen with Hannah.
Hannah’s mom met them at the door. “How bad is she hurt?” she asked, holding the kitchen door open.
“I don’t know,” Roy told her. “Let’s get her to the couch.”
Roy placed Hannah down gently and then stepped aside as Kathy got her first good look at Hannah’s head.
“We have to take her to the doctor—now,” Kathy said. “This looks serious.”
“Are you sure?” Roy said. “Is it that bad?”
“Roy, just look at her eye and that cut on her head!”
Roy, for the first time, carefully studied his daughter’s injury and then nodded. “Can someone run down to Mr. Bowen’s place and call for a driver?” he asked.
“I’ll go,” Ben said as he headed for the door.
Hannah had become alert enough to barely moan but nothing more.
Ben returned minutes later, a little breathless but with news. “Mr. Bowen said it wasn’t necessary to call for a ride. He’ll take her himself.”
“Da Hah be praised,” Roy said, worried about his daughter.
Old Mr. Bowen drove his car up to the front porch. Roy helped the groggy Hannah into the backseat.
“Why don’t you ride in the back with her?” Roy suggested to Kathy.
Kathy nodded, slid in next to Hannah, and held her upright against her own shoulder. With Roy in the front seat, Mr. Bowen pulled out of the driveway.
“Is she hurt badly?” Mr. Bowen asked.
“I can’t tell,” Roy said. “Her head seems to have…quite a gash in it. And her left eye doesn’t look normal.”
“I’ll get you there as fast as I can.” Mr. Bowen accelerated slowly on the gravel road and hung tightly onto the steering wheel. Once they reached the blacktop, he sped up considerably.
They reached Elkhart without incident, and Mr. Bowen pulled into the hospital parking lot. Roy quickly got out, opened the back door, and helped Hannah out of the car. He and Kathy took Hannah’s arms and made their way into the emergency room reception area.
The attending nurse took one look at Hannah, brought a wheelchair for her, and then took her to an examining room to wait for the doctor.
An hour later Roy and Kathy were seated in the waiting room.
“Did they say how bad she is?” Roy asked again.
“The nurse said she’ll be fine. That’s all she said,” Kathy repeated.
“Will she lose the eye?”
“No, surely not,” Kathy said, though with some uncertainty.
“We’ll just have to trust,” he said, attempting a smile and squeezing her hand.
“I’ll wait for you folks. Whatever time this takes,” Mr. Bowen assured them.
“That awful nice of you,” Kathy said. “We can call when we’re done. This could take much of the night.”
“The Mrs. understands,” Mr. Bowen said. “I don’t need much sleep myself anyway.”
“It’s still nice of you,” Kathy said with a smile as she took a seat beside Roy.
A few minutes later, the attending doctor walked into the waiting room and motioned for Hannah’s parents to follow him.
“I’m Dr. Benson,” he announced to the couple as they walked down the hall. “Your daughter is resting now. There isn’t much more we can do other than keep her under observation. We can’t let her sleep for a while, of course.”
“What happened?” Kathy asked.
“A bad concussion, that’s all, from what I can tell. The bone structure of her skull has actually been damaged where the impact occurred. That’s also what caused her left eye to protrude. We patched her up as best we could. Now nature will have to take its course. The eye, I believe, will return to normal now that we have taken the worst of the pressure off. We’d like to keep her here under observation for a day or two just to be sure.”
“Yes, of course,” Roy said. “I appreciate the prompt attention. She had us really worried. Will we be able to see her now?”
“Yes, the nurse will take you back. Do you have any questions?”
Roy and Kathy looked at each other, and Kathy said, “No, doctor, I don’t think so. Thank you for all you’ve done.”
The couple then followed the nurse into the elevator and two floors up.
Hannah lay in the bed, covered with white sheets and kept awake by a watchful nurse. The bed beside Hannah was occupied by another girl whose face was turned away from them. She moved slightly when they walked in but didn’t turn in their direction.
“You’re in good hands,” Kathy whispered and squeezed Hannah’s hand.
Hannah blinked slowly but made no other response.
“A little groggy,” the nurse said and smiled. “We gave her something for the pain.”
“We’d better leave, then, I suppose,” Kathy whispered. “They’ll take good care of you, Hannah. I’ll come back tomorrow first thing.”
Hannah nodded, and Kathy brushed her hand across her cheek.
At the doorway, Kathy glanced back quickly before she followed Roy out.
“She looked okay,” Roy assured her.
“But here—all night by herself.”
“They’ll watch her. You can come back in the morning. Half the night’s gone already the way it is.”
“I suppose so,” Kathy agreed.
Roy pushed the elevator button. They stepped inside when the doors opened and arrived at the waiting room to find Mr. Bowen had nodded off, his chin on his chest.
“We’re back,” Roy whispered into his ear.
He awoke with a start, grinned, and promptly bounced to his feet.
“How is she?” he asked as they walked outside.
“She’ll be okay,” Roy said, “but she’s staying for a day or two.”
“Sounds good for how she looked,” Mr. Bowen commented. “So let me get you folks home. I suppose you’re ready?”
“That we are,” Roy agreed.
Mr. Bowen drove slowly on the way home, taking his time around the curves. When he pulled into the Miller’s graveled driveway, he turned to Kathy in the backseat. “What’s your driver situation for tomorrow?”
“I have no one,” Kathy said, “and I have to go first thing in the morning, but I’ll call around from the pay phone.”
“No, just count on me as your driver until this is over,” Mr. Bowen said.
“That’s awfully nice of you,” Kathy said, “but we don’t to want to take advantage.”
“Think nothing of it,” Mr. Bowen assured her. “I’m more than glad to help out.”